Will You Miss BHS? An Ipswich Inside Story


Troubled high street retailer British Home Stores (BHS) has filed for administration.

Follwing the adminisration of BHS, Essex Journalism visited the Ipswich store to hear what shoppers had to say.

BHS had operated from a site on the corner of Tower Street and Tavern Street. It occupied an art-deco building purpose built in 1937. BHS arrived, and since has been an integral part of the Ipswich retail site. The store occupies a key position opposite the new Buttermarket centre from one facade, and a prominent high street position next to The Ancient House on the other.

Sally Green, a local from Ipswich describes that “BHS had its peak” but is no longer as popular on the high street as it once was.

It is fair to assume that many of the Ipswich locals have an emotional connection with the store, having grown up with it all their lives.

Another local from Ipswich, Jane Collins, 63 said “I will miss it, we need some middle-brow shops which have very expensive or very cheap products for people my age”.

When BHS was established in the 1920s as a rival to Woolworths and Marks and Spencer, British Home Stores had food departments in most of its shops to offer a unique shopping experience to their customers.

But in the 1980s it closed many of them – although some, like the flagship store in Ipswich, continued to sell takeaway food and operate a restaurant, which till today remains very popular.

However many locals don’t see the recent events as a surprise, Margaret, a local from Ipswich explained that its “Sad but I’m not surprised, they should have kept up with the times”. Many have criticised the company for its outdated fashion products that have seen a decrease in popularity. Shoppers have turned instead to rivals such as Marks and Spencer.

Sally, a regular shopper at The Buttermarket said “It dosent bother me one bit, I don’t go in there at all”

The defunct BHS store in Colchester Town shows the harsh reality of trend BHS are experiencing.

Last year Sir Philip Green sold the company for £1 to Retail Acquisitions led by Dominic Chappell, writing off £215m of debts in the process.

The retailer had recently divided its 164 UK stores into three groups – depending on their profitability.

The company’s turnaround plan called for the rents at 77 stores to remain unchanged, while for another 47 stores the company was “seeking a reduction in rent to market levels.”

The local government and the store representatives refused to comment on the topic.

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